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Thread: If you owned a quilt store

  1. #51
    Super Member AZ Jane's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArtsyOne View Post
    A quilt shop in my area recently closed. I would have shopped there more often, except that it seemed really cliquey, with the owner having her baby in the shop and visiting with her friends all day making me feel like an intruder whenever I walked in. What also bugged me was that she would have these lovely quilts hanging on the wall and when I asked her to show me where those particular fabrics were, she would say that the fabrics had been discontinued.
    I understand exactly what you are saying!!
    Better to do something imperfectly, than nothing perfectly.
    Done is better than perfect.

  2. #52
    Junior Member merridancer's Avatar
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    I own a quilt store....

    and I would love to do all the things you ask for....but...everything has a cost and there is only so much money and time to go around. I really just want to address the issue about honoring Joann's coupons. In general LQS carries a higher quality of fabric, so our cost per yard than more than what Joann's is paying. You get what you pay for. Second, Joann's and Walmart can purchase fabric by a shipping container full which is several thousands of yards, usually 3,000 to 6,000 yards at a time. So the cost of a single run of fabric is much cheaper because the set-up costs is only done once. Manufactures for the LQS typically print 500 yards at a time, so every 500 yards, there is a new set-up cost for a new run of a fabric. Lastly, Joann's usually marks up the costs higher than the LQS so they can discount it by a third and still get a 100% markup on cost. A LQS cannot give a 30% discount on the fabric they purchase because the markup is much smaller and the overhead of rent, utilities, healthcare, insurance, payroll and inventory doesn't decrease to match the reduction in income. Anyway that's my rant for the day. Come visit us at www.beautifulquiltfabric.com. Meredith
    Last edited by merridancer; 01-28-2013 at 08:41 AM.

  3. #53
    Senior Member borntoquilt's Avatar
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    We are traveling in our motor home. The "current" LQS has one day a week dedicated to FREE SEW! No classes are scheduled on that day so folks can come in and sew in their classroom. Also one day a month-they open their classroom space to a local group of ladies who use that day to make beautiful quilts for the local nursing homes. Most of the fabric is donated by locals but I bet alot of these ladies use their own fabric too! I had the privlege to meet and sew with these gals several times (we were waiting for a motor home part!) This LQS also plans their classes 4 months in advance so you know exactly what is happening WHEN..... They have a huge variety of classes. AND the shop is beautiful.

  4. #54
    Super Member Sierra's Avatar
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    Some quilt stores, especially in smaller towns, essentially become the local guild. There are classes scheduled, but when there are none anyone can use the table area, which for some of us is a god send. It really is like a club, but very inviting and very fun. The same could be done in a city also, but with registration to keep the numbers reasonable.

  5. #55
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    You have great ideas -- as an employee of a LQS, one of the things that helps us make it is CLASSES --- every Saturday there are classes, so many that now there are some on Fridays and other days of the week. And on Saturdays we also have Embrodiery Club where people share their projects and ideas. The classes increase skill levels of students, and also sell fabric for the projects also. We are only open from 9-6 -- therefore can run one shift of employees. In this community -- downtown goes completely quiet around 5:30. There are two other LQS nearby -- they both close at 5. We're the only shop open on Sundays.

    We however cannot manage to separately order things from different suppliers -- we use a couple of suppliers and if they offer the individual items you suggest, chances are we'll get a small stock in to see if we can sell those -- we do listen to our customers and pass it on to the boss. However, keeping a store stocked is very time consuming, and takes away from the customer service we pride oursleves on. We want to help -- but sometimes our hands are tied.

    We do sell machines -- and service them, and supply intro classes free when you buy a machine -- and you can take that class over and over again. We have our own certified repair service. We're pretty busy in this area. While there are a couple of independent machine dealers on the island, they don't have shops -- the only other machines for sale are at Walmart, Costco, Sears. So we do alot of business when someone wants a "serious" sewing machine. We see plenty of the less costly machines in classes however, and they do work fine...we service them too when they need it. We value every member of the sewing community, not only those with deep pockets. Your sales fabric is a SALE to us, and allows us to continue in business.

    Part of the discussion on the closing of the LQS has been on the stash collectors feeling a little sorry that they are not supporting the LQS because of the cost of fabrics, and they are using their stocked fabrics. Remember -- you kept buying those fabrics for years from your LQS -- there was no or less internet stores to buy from -- so for years you kept those doors open. It is not your fault that the economy went bad and the prices went high. Alot of the price of fabric has to do with the cost of manufacturing and shipping -- and have to be laid at the front door of the oil companies. We've had to raise prices not because of the cost of fabric, but the cost of getting the fabric HERE where you can buy it....

    All for now -- got to get ready for work....love the quilting community -- and this board! Thanks for letting me have a say....

  6. #56
    Junior Member vjjo743's Avatar
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    I have worked in customer service for 22 years and one of the important things we did was to do a survey. We wanted to know what are customers liked or disliked or if there were any ideas. We made it so you could sign your name or not. It was a valuable tool. I know I had a lot of people to volunteer. I was in building management and did a lot of events for the building (3000 people) and you would be surprised to see how many people would volunteer. Just sayin' a quilt store might have a lot of people that would volunteer their time to teach, etc. I know it takes a lot of energy and needless to say money to run a business. But a survey might be helpful. One more thing, when I go into the LQ I do get overwhelmed with all the beautiful fabric and I am ready to buy, but I walk out with nothing, not saying that it’s the LQ fault, what is up with that? Also they do have samples but no longer have the fabric, so when I do get an idea from the samples it is a letdown.
    Vicki

  7. #57
    Senior Member DonnaFreak's Avatar
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    I agree with having a lot of classes, but also keep in mind that there are those of us who would LOVE to take classes, but we have to work during the day. It's so frustrating to see a LQS offering a class that I REALLY want to take, but they only offer it during working hours. Most of them also close at 5:00 if they're not having classes, which means I can't possibly make it to shop after I get off work. I have to do all my running on the weekends, and by the time I'm done I'm so tired I don't even know what to get anymore!

    Also, I'm big on notions. I love to check out new rulers and such, but it's been my experience that the Hancock Fabric stores here carry more notions than the quilt shops do. Great topic! :c)

    Donna
    DonnaFreak

    "Some days it's just not worth it to chew through the leather straps."

  8. #58
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    I would be sure my store was wheel chair accessible and in compliance with federal law. You would be surprised at how many times I hunt down a quilt store when I am out of town and can not even get in the door. My LQS is not only wheel chair accessible but I can get EVERYWHERE between all the fabrics, etc. There are lots of people with disabilities who love to quilt and we have money to spend too!!!
    <a href="http://www.mylivesignature.com" target="_blank"><img src="http://signatures.mylivesignature.com/54489/336/AFDCC36A59CDFF42A211209DA03F222E.png" style="border: 0 !important; background: transparent;"/></a>

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peckish View Post
    Is it "if I were a rich man" from Fiddler On The Roof?
    Quote Originally Posted by barny View Post
    Teeler, you're funny. But I know the tune you are singing to. LOL Fiddler on the Roof?
    DING! DING! DING! We have a winnah! Give those girls a prize!!!

  10. #60
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    Wow if all of you with these great ideas got together and opened a shop, just imagine.......

  11. #61
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    After reading all of these wonderful ideas I realize you are all talking about our local shop!, Friendly, lots of classes, great machine knowledge, samples all over, 2 afternoons for open sewing and we can even use one of their machines if yours is too heavy to haul, great selection of fabric, web page and blog. Boy , do I feel fortunate. I could go on but just to say we are blessed!

  12. #62
    Super Member KalamaQuilts's Avatar
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    I stopped at a quilt shop in northern California some years ago and the owner asked me not to touch the fabric, if I wanted some let her come and get it. Boggled my mind. That is the only time in 42 years of quilting I've actually met the quilt police other than that I think quilt police are just in our mind...
    I'm sure the name of the store is in my quilt journal for that year, but they are packed away.

  13. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ggburlew View Post
    After reading all of these wonderful ideas I realize you are all talking about our local shop!, Friendly, lots of classes, great machine knowledge, samples all over, 2 afternoons for open sewing and we can even use one of their machines if yours is too heavy to haul, great selection of fabric, web page and blog. Boy , do I feel fortunate. I could go on but just to say we are blessed!
    PS. Quilterscorners.com Ithaca ,ny

  14. #64
    Junior Member vjjo743's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mackenzie View Post
    Wow if all of you with these great ideas got together and opened a shop, just imagine.......
    Which goes to prove who ever it was that said "maybe the 3 quilt shops that were closing could get together and share ideas and merge as one so they could stay open", now that would be a great quilt shop. You need a village to raise a child, well you also could use more than 1 person to own and run a shop.
    Vicki

  15. #65
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    This is a great thread. I especially like the points made about samples. It seems that shop owners should plan samples around a fabric line, and order maybe three bolts of each fabric to be used in samples, and keep the samples and the fabric together. Someone has to make the sample as soon as the fabric arrives.

    I would make it a point to go to a fabric shop that has a tying table(s) for customer use. Being able to rent a long-arm machine (with lessons) would also keep me coming back, and while I was there, I would buy.

    Customer service matters a lot! We have only one shop here. It is under new management now, but I got out of the habit of shopping there because most of the six workers were "too busy" to help and there was one full-time counter person who treated everyone rudely; many people either told her off or didn't go back. She was a legend in this town and nobody liked her, but she was a friend of the shop owner, who lost a lot of business because of her. When they put about 60 bolts on clearance, I asked her to cut one to 4 yards of fabric from about 25 different bolts. I was starting my stash then. I told her I was there for an all-day class so she had 8 hours, or I could have picked it up the next week. She made a face when I asked her and by late afternoon, she hadn't even started cutting. I bought no fabric that day. Not being greeted at that shop didn't help, either. Being made to wait 15-20 minutes to check out and having nobody notice didn't help. Having prices 50 percent higher than on the internet didn't help. When I do go in there now, I am looking for something specific, a particular type of thread or fabric. I often do not find it.

    One other shop I went to, 90 minutes from here, was a nice shop in many regards. They had a good selection, good classes, good bathrooms, nice people, and I bought a lot from them. But one thing drove me crazy and eventually I stopped making the trip there, and that was that every time - each and every time - someone was waiting to be rung out, the owner or another employee ALWAYS decided at that moment to start a conversation with another staff member, leaving the person just hanging there waiting. The last time I was there, I was fourth in line, others in front of me had one or two items, and I waited 45 minutes. Ringing out four items, with her conversation, took 15 minutes beyond that. The shop owner kept making mistakes with the first customer but did not stop her conversation to concentrate on what she was doing. When the owner finished one conversation, she started another. Very rude. Wake up! The customer wants to pay, and that is what keeps the shop going. When I tried to buy a machine from them, the demonstrator, also co-owner and husband of the owner, was "busy" and after waiting an hour, I left and bought a machine elsewhere. On a previous visit, I had wanted to be shown that machine, but he only wanted to discuss my disability -- not something I wanted to discuss but he went on and on, and did not show me the machine in the time I had available. I told him I was interested in buying it at the beginning. So I would say good customer service, figuring out what the customer wants and delivering it, and focusing on the customer, matters a whole lot.
    Last edited by cricket_iscute; 01-28-2013 at 12:54 PM.

  16. #66
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    If you sell machines you need a GOOD tech and he needs to be onsite most of the time. No shipping machines out for repair. I cannot stress this enough.

  17. #67
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    As was mentioned earlier, a successful quilting shop is a successful business first and a quilting shop second. The guide lines I have read from the SBA is that for a small business to succeed it has to have capitalization to run 5 years without making a profit. It takes that long for a business to establish a customer base, to make a reputation, etc. If you can't finance your business that long without a seeing a profit then you don't have enough money to start your business. Perhaps the best run quilts shops are not owned by the quilter or the sewing machine expert, but the person with the money who hires the quilter and the sewing machine expert. You probably need more experience in the business field than in the quilting field to make a success of a quilting store.
    Last edited by TanyaL; 01-28-2013 at 02:48 PM.

    The only way I'll drop 10 pounds is to go shopping in England. - Maxine-

  18. #68
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    I would try to maximize impulse buys. It's amazing to me how many stores don't sell fat quarters, or who don't display them nicely. Lots of times I'll go into a quilt store, not because I "need" something, but because I like to look in them. I'm much more likely to buy something for my stash if the fat quarters are in cute arrangements near the bolts of fabric, rather than stuck in a corner somewhere. Kits are another thing that I know people pick up on impulse.

    I think I would try to make a niche for myself...that is distinguish myself from other stores in the area...maybe carry more modern fabrics, more batiks, more something than the other stores do...that is have a little bit of everything, but specialize in something. It annoys me when I go to three stores in a city and see the exact same fabric featured in all of them. I know that there are tons more fabrics out there, I can't figure out why they all carry the same ones.

  19. #69
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    I'm not new to sewing, but am to quilting. We are fortunate and have at least four quilting shops within 30 minutes. My favorite shop also sells and repairs vacuums and I think that helps them stay afloat. They've been around 20 + years.

    Why do I drive 30 minutes to this shop, v. the ones that are 15 minutes away? I love, love, love the fabric selection. The staff are very friendly. There are lots of kits to try, large and small. Many patterns. The owner is on site and available. Nice selection of everything, but not a huge store. I don't think I've walked away yet thinking, "I sure wish they carried..." Prices are reasonable.

  20. #70
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    My LQS had a wonderful Saturday open house to showcase new fabrics and books. Best of all, they several LAQ from the area who showed samples of their work, brought notebooks of their available quilting patterns, and were there to talk with you.

    I gathered all their info and am going to take projects to each of them to see who does the best work and meets her promised deadline. I will then use her for the really big project I have almost finished piecing.

  21. #71
    Super Member decky's Avatar
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    My quilt shop has a show and tell once a month on Friday and Saturday. They show new products that they have and ideas for making things, also give door prizes and then have the show and tell for all the ladies to show off their quilts. It is a big hit!!

    Pat in MN

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    Have classes in the evening or on weekends for us poor people that have to work. If I could find a shop that does this I would only shop there

  23. #73
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    I patronize three LQSes on a regular basis

    Shop 1: almost everything in your list -- classes, samples, nice staff, excellent machine servicing, evening hours
    Shop 2: no classes; no evening hours; some but not a lot of samples; always new fabric; the best and most friendly and helpful staff
    Shop 3: no classes; incredible variety of fabric; mostly internet business but friendly helpful staff in the bricks and mortar store; when looking for something specific that they didn't carry they instantly volunteered to order it.

    I shop each one for what they have to offer and don't fret too much about their "imperfections." The one I am in is my favorite that day.

  24. #74
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    Ultimately, other than the owner having a good "head" for business, the bottom line in what we like about our local LQS is atmosphere. Yes, we want a large selection of fabric, notions, patterns, etc., but do we really shop at the store that offers all of that and no warm fuzzies? If I feel comfortable in a store, I'll go back again and again. If the selection isn't always there, I sometimes supplement by shopping online, but continue to support my LQS, even - gasp - by breaking out of my color comfort zone!

    When you stop and really think about it, the LQS is not the only type of store that is suffering because of the economy and the big box stores. Think of all the gas stations, mom and pop grocery stores, small pharmacies, and hardwares that have closed due to the big comglomerates. We need to flex our spending power to keep those stores that we really like in business. I'd much rather shop where most of the staff know my name and even my kids' names, because sometimes they run errands for me by going to the LQS. For me to shop at my LQS, it's an all day event because it takes me an hour to get there. We used to have one right here in town, but I only went there twice and did not have a good experience either time. So for me, if I owned my very own LQS, customer service would be top of the list. Without that, you can have all the bells and whistles there are, but you won't be getting my business.

  25. #75
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    Friendly sales staff.

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